Google Privacy

Google Privacy: What Google Knows About You and How to Adjust It

For better or for worse, Google and the services it provides are an integral part of daily life for many people. As a result, most people don’t think about Google privacy and what types of information Google may be capturing from them.

The processes that Google uses to gather information about you are a big reason for its effectiveness, but can also cause some serious red flags in the privacy department. Today I will be showing you how to access the information that Google has gathered on you and how to disable the collection of some of the more sensitive data.

Find out what Google thinks it knows about you.

Part of the reason Google is so successful is the information they collect about you. (For simplicity, we’ll use “they” to describe the Google processes at work.) They build a profile of who they think you are, and use that to serve you advertising it thinks might be relevant.

See your ad settings here: http://www.google.com/settings/ads/

As you can see, they have made educated guesses about your sex, age, primary language, and interests based on the websites you visit and information you have included in your Google profile. You can add interests if you so choose to see more relevant advertising on the pages you visit. There is also a link that allows you to opt out of interest-based ads if you would like to increase your privacy.

Find out your location history.

If you have an Android-based mobile device, it is more than likely that Google is tracking and recording your location everywhere you go with your device.

See your location history here: https://maps.google.com/locationhistory

This page is often quite jarring, as it can show your exact location at every moment of every day. If you are uncomfortable with this and want to increase your Google privacy related to location, click on the Settings button, then click the ‘Places you go’ toggle button on the next page.

Google privacy - location settings

Click for larger image

Google privacy - location account history

Click for larger image

Your search history: Everything you have searched for. Ever.

Google saves every search you have ever performed. They also record every Google ad you have clicked on. This astonishing collection of history is located at https://www.google.com/history/

Google privacy - search history

Click for larger image

As you can see, it logs pretty much everything that you search for. If you use the Google Chrome web browser, the collection is taken to an even higher level by recording and ranking the sites that you visit most often.

Again, if you would like to increase your Google privacy and disable these features, click on the gear-shaped settings icon on the top right of the screen.

A useful page that shows every Google Service that you use.

The Google dashboard will give you a quick synopsis of all the Google services that you use. This is actually pretty useful, as you can see your Gmail conversations, any contacts you may have, and apps purchased from the Google Play Store, as well as anything else you use through Google.

See your Google dashboard here: https://www.google.com/settings/dashboard

Google privacy - account dashboard

Click for larger image

You can use this page as a kind of control center for your Google universe. It can take you directly to a number of configuration pages for a multitude of services.

Most people know that Google can be an extraordinarily useful tool to use in your online life. However, most people, do not know about their Google privacy and the extent to which Google is tracking and collecting every piece of information it can about them. The key is striking a middle path between protecting your personal information and still allowing Google to be a useful tool.

If you need any help with Google, online privacy, or anything else technology related please let me know.

1 Response

  1. Well this is eye opening and terrifying!

Leave a comment